Charity gambling to be allowed at Ohio Bike Week

PERKINS TWP. Charity gambling at the fairgrounds wasn't a sure bet because operators waited until th
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

PERKINS TWP.

Charity gambling at the fairgrounds wasn't a sure bet because operators waited until the last minute to ask Erie County Commissioners for their approval.

The gambling, which benefits the survivors of police officers killed on duty and other charitable causes, will be one of the entertainment options for Ohio Bike Week, which starts today.

Commissioners Tom Ferrell and Nancy McKeen voted to support the games, but commissioner Bill Monaghan voted no, saying it was wrong to ask commissioners to approve a gambling event just one day before Ohio Bike Week begins.

Games of chance are legal in Ohio only if they benefit a charity; they are in a government building; and they only take place for a few days.

A charitable organization can operate such games for five days in a row once a year, or for four days in a row twice a year, said Gary Lickfelt, legal counsel for the county commissioners.

Lickfelt explained the Ohio Bike Week gambling will begin Saturday andcontinue until June 14.

The games will be offered for the first four days by Ohio Concerns of PoliceSurvivors of Marysville, which supports the families of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty.

The last four days will be offered by The Ohio Lawmen Softball Team Inc. of Valley View, which supports a variety of charities, including Ohio COPS.

The games will take place in Building No. 4 of the Erie County Fairgrounds. The county is leasing the building from the fair board and then leasing it to the charities.

The games offered will include a variety of Texas hold 'em, blackjack and three card poker, said Troy Keegan, a spokesman for Ohio Lawmen. Participants can also take a spin on Chuck-a-Luck Wheels or can try "beat the dealer" or "over and under" with dice, he said.

Monaghan said he did not understand why the request to allow gambling would come before the commissioners one day before Ohio Bike Week starts and two days before the gaming was set to begin.

"I think you have to plan way ahead of time," Monaghan said.

The request provides little time for the commissioners to investigate the request, he said.

Monaghan noted that neither group is from Erie County, and neither sent anyone to the meeting to answer questions about the request.

"I would have thought one of these people would show up at this meeting," he said.

Ferrell remarked that he's familiar with Ohio COPS and wants to support its efforts.

"I'm aware of their program," he said.

In separate motions, he and McKeen outvoted Monaghan 2-1 to allow both organizations to present the games.

Julie Roeder, coordinator for Ohio Bike Week, could not be reached for comment Thursday.